DON’T “Be true to yourself”

(Image Not Mine)

“Be true to yourself”
We hear that a lot as a guide for what decisions to make in life. One definition on the web says it “means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe.” Is that really the best way to go? Is being true to yourself going to give the best result?

I think it sounds very encouraging when we say being true to ourselves is to know and love ourselves and not to do something that goes against our values just to gain acceptance from others. It’s mostly true. But because we are each fundamentally flawed, starting from when Adam and Eve decided to be true to themselves, our best intentions will be clouded by selfishness, self-preservation and self-righteousness. Being true to a flawed “self” will mean those decisions made will also be flawed…because at the very core of it, “being true to yourself” is self-seeking.

@RevTedNg was sharing that if you are married, then your first concern is to be true to your spouse and to put yourself aside. If you were true to yourself, you couldn’t be true to your spouse. Being true to yourself would mean you put your concerns, beliefs and happiness and well-being above your spouse’s…and we know that is a quick way to tank that relationship. Or any relationship. You might say, “but one of my values is to be faithful to my husband, so being true to myself includes that.” Yes, but is one of your values also that you deserve happiness and to feel loved? What if someone else makes you feel happier or more loved? Which value will stand? Our culture advises, “Listen to your heart!” But the Bible warns “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (Jeremiah 17:9) I think God knows our hearts more than we’re willing to admit. And so He warns us that we CANNOT trust it to lead us in the right way.

And if you are Christ following, then the top priority is ultimately to be true to Christ. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Being true to Christ is to live in a manner worthy of bearing His name. It is to give entirely of yourself to God, submitting to whatever He might want so that you can be made more Christ-like. It is daily choosing “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” and to “not conform to the patterns of this world” (Romans 12:1-2) ….patterns that tell you to “be true to yourself”, “listen to your heart” or “you know what’s best for you”.

With eternal rewards in mind, I think we first need to be true to Christ for the best outcome in everything else. God’s values and principles are unchanging, unfailing and comes wholly out of His LOVE. When we line our lives up to be true to HIS values, then, and only then, could we be true to our spouses and true to ourselves…in the way God designed His goodness to be lived out in us.

3 responses

  1. I want to expand on this topic as I understand the importance of being true to Christ so that you can be more true to yourself, but I also think you have to be true to yourself in order to authentically know Christ.

    As a Christian, I’ve experienced a lot more personal satisfaction and joy in my faith after I’ve learned to approach God (and others) with my authentic self (doubts and all) rather than just submitting to God will without fully engaging my mind, body, and spirit.

    I guess my definition of “being true to yourself” is “being authentically you.” I think ideally, for honest living, how we behave on the outside should be congruent with how we think/feel on the inside, but because our authentic self is flawed, we also need to learn to grow our authentic self to become more in line with our ideal self (which is very much rooted in God’s design for us).

    While that web definition of being true to yourself as meaning “to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe” is incomplete, I don’t think it is contradictory to being true to God. To me, they are complementary states of being. I actually don’t believe it’s possible to be true to God without being true to yourself, nor do I think you can really be true to yourself without God the Creator revealing to you your true self.

    A person who surrenders to God’s will without regularly engaging their heart, soul, and life experience in the process, ends up doing things out of routine and obligation. To me, doubt, honest expression of doubt, and inner struggle (even between my own human nature and God’s will) are natural and beneficial processes that promote personal/spiritual growth. If you submit to a person/diety without engaging your true person (your strengths, weaknesses, heart, knowledge, past experiences, etc all encompassed) you can be easily misled into believing wrong theology, or theology that is not rooted in reality. Even if you happened to pick the true and right religion, without engagement of your true being, your faith can only remain superficial and you are unlikely to experience the full benefits of growth, joy, and freedom that comes with true spiritual enlightenment. You may end up with outward obedience without true, inner transformation.

    By the same token, one must also understand that we cannot know our true self apart from God. He is our Creator and there is no one who knows our inner workings better than He. He is also the one who holds the blue print for our lives and knows what courses of actions and areas of growth will enable us to best thrive. So, if we want to be our true and best selves, we must allow God to help reveal that treasure and shape us as such. If we believe God to be all-knowing, loving and good, it would be wise to align our will and motives with His. But if we do not know God to be these things, we would be foolish to completely surrender ourselves to a person/diety whom we weren’t convinced was and is the epitome of goodness and love.

    Being authentically you does not mean acting as you feel/want all the time without consideration to others, but it does mean you can use your God-given strengths, resources, experiences, and emotions as powerful tools of discernment and connection. It also means it is OK to find opportunities and outlets for expressing your own needs/desires, even if it is in conflict with your spouse’s/God’s because that is when dialogue can happen, solutions can arise, and your decision to surrender (or deny yourself) will lead to inner peace rather than fear/turmoil.

    I accept that I am a flawed human being and will always be limited in my understanding of God, but I also trust that God will reveal and convict me of the truths he desires me to act on. As a person striving to practice my faith in ways that engage my true and entire self, my personal resolve is to always try to live out my life based only on what I honestly believe and accept about God and my faith, and to say “I don’t know” or “I’m not there yet” when that is the truth. I believe my faith will always be a work in progress. Today, I understand and accept much more about God and the bible than I did 10 years ago, and 10 years ago I accepted much more about God and the bible than I did 10 years before that. Ultimately, we want to grow to accept everything about the bible and surrender every aspect of our lives to God, but that is not a snap-of-the-finger process for any growing and authentic human being.

    So, I’m always in pursuit of both things. Knowing myself better so that I can approach God with greater honesty, and knowing God better so He can teach me more about my true self/purpose as He has designed.

    • Jella….thank you…you said it SO much better. ha ha. In my head it is somehow part of the same coin…true to self and God…because our culture focuses on self alone. Also appreciate you brought out it being ok to have conflict with being true to God…totally agree. It’s where conversation can happen and we can understand why we have a problem with what God is asking. Thanks for expanding on this! =)

      • Well, THANK YOU for always bring up these great topics that challenge me to go deeper with my faith/theology! Why do I need my own blog when I’m so good at mooching off your? Haha!

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